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Monday, June 20, 2011

What ails Tamilnadu – shortage of power – is it supply or mismanagement ?

There cannot be any prizes for guessing – the State [Tamilnadu] is reeling under a severe power crisis and there are measures aimed at restricting and controlling the power – power cuts are the order of the day.  The City so far has been spared but now residents of the city will have to brace for four hours of load shedding daily from June 21 to 30. The cut would be carried out in spells of one hour every four hours in rotation.  It is stated that the  four-hour load shedding is being introduced to take up line connectivity work to the TNEB-NTPC joint venture thermal power plant at Vallur. The Nellore-Alamathy 400 KV line is being shutdown for this purpose.  According to a press release from TANGEDCO, the shutdown of the line would lead to a shortage of about 300 MW of power to the city and its suburbs. Officials said the existing one hour of load shedding in the city will be replaced by the new schedule in areas covered by the four-hour shutdown. With the mercury still hot, households are using airconditioners to the hilt, so much of electricity is wasted – with people keeping their televisions and other electrical gadgets on for hours together.  The manufacturing sector is hit hard by the shortage in power and the common man would feel the pinch again as the prices keep spiralling up.

For all our appliances and facilities, we use electric power.  It actually is the rate at which electric energy is transferred by an electric circuit. The SI unit of power is the watt.  In our country, mostly the electricity is transmitted through overhead power lines.  There are transformers which supply the domestic current with which most of our devices work.  They convert electrical energy into many utilities such as  heat (electric heaters), light (light bulbs), motion (electric motors), sound (loudspeaker), information technological processes (computers), or even chemical changes.  Have you wondered where from you get your current ?   Electricity generation is the process of generating electric energy from other forms of energy. The fundamental principles were discovered by Michael Farady.  The power so generated if not used immediately, is to be transmitted, distributed and stored and there could be losses at each stage. 

The State of Tamilnadu is facing acute power shortage which is a cause of great concern for the new incumbent Government and in a bid to  tide over the crisis,  Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa  has  urged Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to allocate an additional 1,000 MW power from the central pool for one year starting June, 2011.  Quoting  Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) newspaper reports suggests that  the present power generation stands at 7,300 MW against the total capacity of around 10,000 MW and the demand during this summer is more than 11,000 MW. Tamil Nadu gets its share of 2840 MW from the central grid every year. The state has been seeking the additional 1,000 MW from the central reserves every year without much luck.   The power deficit runs closer to  4,000 MW and to handle this crisis, the government may be compelled to extend power shutdowns from the current one hour to two hours in the Chennai and other districts. 

The situation is far from satisfactory – for example, the textile capital – Coimbatore with more than 20000 spinning mills is feeling the brunt as there are intense and frequent powercuts.  The textile industry is losing production and some units are reportedly on the brim of closing down.  The many small factories are also hit badly. 

Besides the conventional source of electric generation, there is renewable source of energy – the Wind mills.  Tamilnadu has hundreds of windmills nearer Nagercoil and near Coimbatore.  Windmill is a machine that converts the wind energy into electric energy.    Also called wind turbine and WEG [wind electricity generator] – they convert the kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy.    The windmills here generally have three blades and the blade  acts much like an airplane wing. When the wind blows, a pocket of low-pressure air forms on the downwind side of the blade. The low-pressure air pocket then pulls the blade toward it, causing the rotor to turn. This is called lift. The force of the lift is actually much stronger than the wind's force against the front side of the blade, which is called drag. The combination of lift and drag causes the rotor to spin like a propeller, and the turning shaft spins a generator to make power.  The rotational motion of the wind turbine blades is converted to electricity using an electrical generator. The generator uses electromagnetic induction to generate electricity, which can either be used immediately or stored for later use.  Inside the generator, a coil of copper spins between a couple of magnets. This creates an electrical field, which is made into DC current. The DC current passes through multiple rectifiers that convert the DC current into AC. AC is the type of current a typical household outlet uses.

the windmills at muppanandal near Nagercoil

As you know, there is the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board [TNEB] which came into being in 1957  taking care of energy and distribution.  In Nov 2010, it was restructured into TNEB Ltd; Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) Ltd; and Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation (TANTRANSCO) Ltd.   Arising out of power shortage, there has been load shedding, % cut for both HT Industrial and Commercial consumers, Evening peak hour restrictions  etc.,  Amidst, these there is a shocking report in today’s Indian Express that there has been wastage of 500 MW wind power.

ENS reports that on two occasions last week and on Sunday, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) on average did not use 500 MW of wind power.  While wind power producers say it was due to poor infrastructure to carry power from generating units to the grid, TANGEDCO maintains that it was due to supply overshooting demand.  According to K Kasthurirangaian, Chairman of Indian Wind Power Association, the current electricity production by windmills in Tamil Nadu is around 3,400 MW and the TANGEDCO had the capacity to evacuate only around 2,900 MW. “Now, the season is good and windmills produce almost optimal power. But, the TANGEDCO is unable to utilise it as it lacks adequate evacuation infrastructure,” he said. During last week, under-utilisation averaging 500 MW happened at least twice, besides on Sunday. If the power utility sets up sufficient facilities to use wind power, the State need not reel under power shortage,  Kasthuri rangaian said.  When asked, senior officials at the TANGEDCO said the present demand was only 10,000 MW, while the actual availability was a little over 11,000 MW. Explaining the surplus, an official said power production from hydel units had increased due to opening of dams, including Mettur, and the rains. “The intermittent rains in the State has decreased farm demand, which is substantial. Also, there is a drop in demand in urban areas.”  The TANGEDCO did not buy the full quantum of power from the windmills not because of poor infrastructure but due to availability of surplus electricity, he said.

There is shortage, there is supply, there is excess and still there is shortage – a paradox indeed !!  There is another news which is equally or more shocking. !!!

ENS reports that TNEB has been caught providing 135 power connections to commercial establishments in a building without prior approval and the  files pertaining to the approval for the building’s construction have mysteriously disappeared. What is worse, the Board had failed to act after its vigilance cell had asked it to issue notices to the consumers, as per documents available with Express.   Kasi Chetty Lane, in Sowcarpet  - a busy area known for many shops reportedly is the area where this incident is reported.  The loss of records is claimed to have arisen due to shifting of office; the paper reports that the building neither had the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority's (CMDA) approval nor the sanction of the Chennai Corporation for constructing additional floors.....

So there is power, shortage, wastage, notable to receive the  supply, miscommunication, inefficiency and mishandling – all combine to plague the State. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Courtesy : Indian Express of date [20th June 201] for  2 articles : Shocking waste of 500 MW windpower in power starved TN and  135 powerlines to buildings without approval

PS :  Upon posting heard news in Jaya TV that the proposed load shedding and power cut stands postponed.


  1. One of the reason for shortage is the unwritten orders to under-generate from the TNEB run power plants and buy from Independent Power Producers at exorbitant rates, as high as Rs.15 per unit (no need to say that most IPPs are benamis of politicians)

    once a thermal plant is shut down it takes days to restart and also, i was told, lowers the life of the turbine parts.

    on a different note - there is a unique hydro power station at Kadambarai near valparai. It's located inside a tunnel. water from upper aliyar dam is routed through this tunnel and power is generated. this power is fed into the electricity grid during peak hours and for the rest of the day, the water that runs down to lower aliyar dam is pumped to the upper aliyar dam using huge electric pumps. Switzerland has many such plants and Minister Panruti Ramachandran, after seeing one during his visit there, initiated this project. It's located in a scenic location.


  2. Thanks for your kind information its very useful for me and all of us.......... thanks once again

  3. so nice that information ........
    I think the the transmission loss is very high (18% to 20%)becouse againg of conductors...we have to replace the new coductor chance to reduced 8 to 10% transmission loss .....then lote of softwere companices did not shortdown the system during night time or luntch time if they do shortdown the system and unnessory equipment, light and etc... we can save the power up to 300MW....
    why we can't move to solar energy ..........?